AppearanceIt most commonly grows as a large shrub growing to around 5 to 8 metres tall, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree, exceptionally to 18 metres tall. The shoots are slender and hairless.
The leaves are opposite, and palmately lobed with 7 to 11 lobes, almost circular in outline, 3 to 14 centimetres long and broad, and thinly hairy on the underside; the lobes are pointed and with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves turn bright yellow to orange-red in fall. The flowers are small, 6 to 9 millimetres in diameter, with a dark red calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals; they are produced in open corymbs of 4 to 20 together in spring. The fruit is a two-seeded samara, each seed 8 to 10 millimetres in diameter, with a lateral wing 2 to 4 centimetres long.
Vine Maple trees can bend over easily. Sometimes, this can cause the top of the tree to grow into the ground and send out a new root system, creating a natural arch.
HabitatIt typically grows in the understory below much taller forest trees, but can sometimes be found in open ground, and occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 metres .
UsesIt is occasionally cultivated outside its native range as an ornamental tree, from Juneau, Alaska and Ottawa, Ontario to Huntsville, Alabama, and also in northwestern Europe.
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